GANGNEUNG, South Korea (AP) Ryan Donato scored two goals, Troy Terry had three assists and the United States beat Slovakia 5-1 in the qualification round Tuesday to advance to face the Czech Republic in the Olympic quarterfinals.
College kids again led the way for the U.S., which scored more against Slovakia then it did in all three preliminary-round games. James Wisniewski, Mark Arcobello and Garrett Roe also scored for the Americans, who took advantage of a 5-on-3 power play for hits on Donato and goaltender Ryan Zapolski.
”We’ve had a lot of chances that we didn’t score on,” Donato said. ”Just having the chemistry build and continue to build, it feels really good.”
Shaking off a collision with Ladislav Nagy, Ryan Zapolski had arguably his best game of the tournament, stopping 21 of the 22 shots he faced. Zapolski and the U.S. also beat Slovakia 2-1 in the preliminary round when Donato scored twice. With his second two-goal game, Donato equaled his father, Ted, who scored four goals for the U.S. at the 1992 Games in Albertville.
Between periods, Donato saw video of his dad in the stands and said, ”I’ve never seen him smile like that before.”
Slovakia goaltender Jan Laco allowed five goals on 33 shots and Peter Ceresnak scored a power-play goal for Slovakia, which became the first team eliminated from the men’s side.
In other qualification games later Tuesday, Finland played South Korea, with the winner advancing to take on Canada; Slovenia faced Norway, with the winner advancing to play the ”Olympic Athletes from Russia”); and Germany played Switzerland, with the winner advancing to face Sweden.
After a listless first period with no goals and few scoring chances, the U.S. wasted little time getting on the board early in the second. Terry, as he has done all Olympics, used his speed to get to the net, and Donato picked up the loose puck and beat Laco 1:36 into the period.
”I thought I’ve had a good tournament the whole time,” Terry said. ”It hasn’t resulted in a lot of points and that type of stuff. So I was just trying to keep my confidence and know that I just have to play the same way.”
The Americans got not one but two scares 26 seconds later when Nagy ran over Zapolski and Slovakia defenseman Michal Cajovsky put a shoulder into Donato’s head in the neutral zone. Trainers attended to Donato and Zapolski as backup goaltender Brandon Maxwell stretched and prepared to go in.
Donato got looked at on the bench and Zapolski took a few minutes before deciding not to leave the net. Zapolski said he figured he had a pinched nerve in his neck and couldn’t feel his hands and feet for a few minutes, while Donato had his own worries.
”I had a little bit of a bloody nose,” Donato said. ”It kind of felt like I might’ve broke my nose right away but it feels fine and nothing was wrong.”
With Cajovsky given a match penalty – a five-minute major and an ejection – and Nagy in the penalty box for goaltender interference, the U.S. scored 18 seconds into its 5-on-3 power play with Donato screening Laco for Wisniewski’s first goal to make it 2-0 at the 2:20 mark. Terry took advantage of all the time in the world behind the net and found an open Arcobello for a one-timer to put the U.S. up 3-0 at 13:30.
”They’ve got some talent there,” Arcobello said of his linemates. ”Donato can really shoot it, as you saw tonight and in a couple games before. Terry can really set up the plays. He’s got the vision and the passing. They’re good. They’ve got a lot of energy and they’re going to keep me going.”
After Jordan Greenway was penalized for slashing, Slovakia scored on the power play 16:54 into the second to cut it to 3-1, but the lightning-fast line of Roe, Brian O’Neill and Broc Little combined for a tic-tac-toe goal to make it 4-1 at 9:52 of the third. O’Neill flashed his speed down the right wing, took a hit while making the pass to Little who found Roe for a tap-in.
Donato scored his second of the game, this time on the power play, 16:46 into the third to put a capper on a convincing victory authored by the college players.
”I think people saw tonight we have a very fast team and a team that can play good hockey,” Terry said. ”So we have a lot of belief in our team and we’re excited to keep going.”
NOTES: St. Cloud State defenseman Will Borgen was a healthy scratch again for the United States. … Veteran forward Jim Slater returned to the lineup, replacing Chad Kolarik. … Former NHL player and coach Craig Ramsay coaches Slovakia.
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